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Parker vs. Ruiz Jr and the mysterious illness of the Heavyweight division

By Matthias Predonzan: Once upon a time there was a weight class that was not only the most important, because the fighters competing in it where the biggest and strongest athletes in the sport of boxing but also because it was a very competitive weight class, with many excellent fighters. For many years we had had epic fights, with the like of Muhammad Ali, Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Ken Norton fighting each other.

Then, there was a time when the level of the heavyweights was not as good but maybe just because we were comparing boxers like Larry Holmes to the previous generation mentioned before. Nonetheless we saw plenty of good fights at that time.

Then we had the Mike Tyson’s era, with a fighter that dominated alone the heavyweight division with such an aura of evilness and invincibility that brought millions and millions of fans to watch his fights with a great deal of expectation and excitement.

Finally we had few years with very good fighters like Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe and Lennox Lewis fighting each other for the delight of boxing fans.

Then was game over. A glacial era, dominated by the Klitschko brothers, began.

The two Ukrainian were maybe decent boxers but not assisted by a decent opposition nor by an intriguing fighting style.

Recently we were full of hopes that the day was coming again, when the heavyweight class would have been the queen of professional boxing. Clearly this is not the case.

After a display of terrible boxing we have seen in the recent Wladimir Klitschko vs. Tyson Fury fight, we are going on with poor champions and poorer fights.

Last Saturday night, in Auckland, New Zealand, we just saw a fight that was going to crown the new WBO heavyweight champion of the world, between Joseph Parker and Andy Ruiz Jr. Something is wrong here.

The fight itself was OK, it was entertaining in some extent. The two are decent fighters, even with very evident limits but the most disturbing aspect, to me, was the total lacking of intensity.

No competitiveness at all.

Both the fighters had a clear game plan to execute: Parker, the “boxer”, was supposed to use his reach and his jab to take the time from Ruiz jr and score with his left and overhand right combination and Andy was supposed to cut the ring and fight inside.

Both did what they have to do but with zero belief and in a kind of slow motion fashion.

Parker was slowly circulating in the outside, throwing just a few jabs to just win rounds and Ruiz Jr was only following him throwing some flurry but never pushing the action in the direction that was clearly the one to take.

It was like both the guys were too respectful of the contender’s power that never materialized.

You can say – well, it was just a domestic fight between two veterans that were there just for their payday-. But you would be very wrong. It was a fight for the Heavyweight World Title, between two young, undefeated fighters.

I think it was during the break between the 10th and the 11th round, when I caught a portion of a conversation between Abel Sanchez and his fighter, Andy Ruiz Jr.
Sanchez told him – it’s good, just not jump on him-.

So his fighter was down on points, finally back winning a couple of rounds attacking Parker with some convincing and he told him to go back to the passive trend to follow a very inactive Parker around the ring, being sure to not throw enough punches to win rounds. And this is exactly what happened.

Ruiz Jr went back executing this absurd plan, to do nothing. As a result he lost the last two rounds and the fight. I do not know you but I’m missing something here.

Have you ever seen a trainer, DURING A WORLD TITLE FIGHT, to say to his fighter that was down on points, two rounds to the end, to slow down, to not attack his contender with anything he had left?

When I saw Sanchez congratulating to his fighter after the final bell I asked to myself -Does he really think they have won the fight, fighting in that way?

For sure it was a missed opportunity. It could have been a decent fight, it was just a confirmation that the new golden age is far, far away from us.




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